St. Patrick’s Day has long been a favorite holiday of mine and not only because I have Irish roots (my mom was a full blown redhead after all!). Chicago is a great place to visit for this popular Irish holiday. We have so many fabulous authentic Irish pubs, food, two festive parades, and a river that is dyed green every year. Of course, many people in Chicago claim their “Irish Heritage” every March 17th but that’s what makes the day so much fun. Everyone is in the spirit to eat, drink and be merry, the Irish way.
Eating the Irish way on St. Patrick’s Day inevitably means serving some variation of Corned Beef and Cabbage. A wonderful and traditional accompaniment to this dinner is the Irish Soda Bread. The Soda Bread itself has a long history in Ireland, dating back to 1840 when bicarbonate of soda was first introduced to the country. It became especially popular after the Famine Years, since the baking soda replaced the more expensive yeast in bread recipes. Traditional Irish Soda Bread recipes have just four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. Other add ons like currants, raisins and caraway seeds were introduced later as a way to give more flavor and variety.
I love the flavor of currants and caraway seeds so I’ve included them in my Dairy Free Irish Soda Bread. Also, since my recipe is dairy free, it uses a buttermilk substitute by simply adding vinegar to soy milk. Many soda bread recipes are shaped into a free form loaf and have an X marked on the top. It is written that the X is meant to ward off evil but a far more common explanation for the X is to give a guideline for cutting slices. Mine is simply put into a round baking pan. What could be simpler?
Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day, whether you’re Irish or not!
DAIRY FREE IRISH SODA BREAD
Yield: 1 round loaf
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup currants
3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
11/2 cups dairy-free buttermilk (2 T. vinegar mixed with 2 cups soy milk, let stand 5-10 minutes)
In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a wire whisk. Slowly add the buttermilk, and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in currants and caraway seeds.
Preheat oven to 350ºF, and spray a 9-inch cake pan with dairy-free baking spray. Place batter into prepared pan, and bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned.